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Nuns to end a joyous life with horses

Sister Angela Chandler has lavished care on the miniature horses that roam the Texas monastery where she lives for nearly 30 years.

Now, with just three Franciscan Poor Clare nuns left, when once they numbered 20, the sisters have decided to sell their monastery and seek a new direction, reports Neil Clarkson of horsetalk.co.nz

Breeding miniatures has been a remarkable journey for the sisters, generating a much-needed income and attracting tens of thousands of tourists to the Monastery of St Clare, about 120 kilometres from Houston.

Sister Angela said they began breeding miniatures in 1981, at times having up to 80 horses on the property. Sales of the horses from their breeding operation generated a useful income.

However, the thousands of tourists that flocked to the monastery to see the horses ultimately proved the most profitable. Tourists from as far away as Sweden, Jerusalem, Egypt and Tasmania have visited the monastery just to see the horses!

Sister Angela said that while they once numbered around 20 nuns, even then many of them were old. Today, just three remain. Sister Angela, 54, is by far the youngest. The others are aged 89 and 96. The eldest suffers from Alzheimer's.

Sister Angela's brother, Bill Chandler, helps out as the grounds keeper, but the work around the monastery is now too much for the sisters.

"It has been coming for a number of years," Sister Angela said of the decision to move, which was made last year.